Plastic is a Paradox. It is a revolutionary material that is essential to our modern way of life, but it is killing our planet’s most vital resource and ecosystem – our oceans.

Along with our partners, we wanted to address this problem with candor and integrity. The Blue Paradox is an immersive experience that seeks to move, engage, inspire action and spark conversation.

The journey began in London in 2020, when our short-term installation got extraordinary public response. Now we’re making a long-term commitment to this cause, with an innovative multi-year museum experience.

The Studio team at RadicalMedia concepted, designed, developed, produced, and installed The Blue Paradox at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry – a location that delivers long-term prestige, impact and reach.
Our goal is to move, engage, inspire action and spark conversation. With deeper knowledge and broader connection on the issue, The Blue Paradox is a step towards safeguarding our future, together.

SC Johnson

Ogilvy & Mather Chicago

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Gallery Entrance

Guests enter the experience through a gallery exhibit featuring the work of National Geographic photographer, Randy Olson, and “Emergence”, a sculptural installation of welded plastic debris by artist Aurora Robson. 

Both set the stage for The Blue Paradox by highlighting the issue of plastic pollution in a very literal way, illustrating how it impacts people the world over.

Room 1: The Role of Our Oceans

Chapter One of The Blue Paradox story is presented in an immersive theater – an intricately constructed LED wave screen reaching far over guests' heads, engulfing them in sight and sound. 

This introductory film demonstrates that every living thing on this planet relies on the ocean to survive and that disruptive change is needed now, to confront the global ocean pollution crisis.
Phytoplankton Responsive Floor
When guests enter the immersive theater, they discover a floor of glowing phytoplankton. These tiny bioluminescent creatures respond and react to their movements – glowing and swirling with fluid dynamics around their feet.

Room 2: The Depth of the Problem

The sheer volume of plastics reaching the ocean has grown to impact marine life, ecosystems, and food chains all around the world. And since plastics can take hundreds of years to decompose, the issue is not going away on its own anytime soon. But the first step to solving a problem of this immense scale is to understand it.

Using data visualization, we show the rate at which plastic particles are entering the ocean, where the bulk of the plastic is coming from, and how it ultimately affects all aspects of marine and human life.

Room 3: The Plastic Paradox

The ocean-plastics problem much more complicated than we think. With no single solution to turn to, we must face the reality that even the best answers to the problem can be deeply entangled in challenges and trade-offs.

A series of interactive plinths feature a set of question & answer animations, shedding light on the intricacies and complexities we face in dealing with the ocean-plastic problem. Seemingly obvious solutions are in fact very complex.

Through this use of individualized activity, guests develop a sense of personal involvement in the story. 

Room 4: The Tipping Point

When it comes to the plastic-pollution crisis, is it a case of out of sight, out of mind? With our oceans used as the dumping ground for so much plastic, we now know that the plastic we use once and throw away never really goes away.

Revolving conveyors of common products illustrate the overwhelming volume of plastic juxtaposed with realistic statistics about recycling practices – showing the relationship between consumption and disposal.  
Around the world, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 billion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.

Room 5: Solutions & Actions

The final chapter of The Blue Paradox focuses on the power of individual and collective action. 

By teaching guests about their own plastic consumption, how it compares to others' and what small changes they can take to have big impacts in their day-to-day, we reinforce the idea that this is a collective problem, which we can and should address as a global community. We also invite guests to learn how industry and organizations are innovating, as a call to action for consumers to support companies demonstrating real change to help save the ocean and the planet.  
Plastic Calculator
Powered by Plastic Bank, this interactive quiz lets guests learn what their own plastic footprint is by answering some questions about daily activities. It then contextualizes their result by providing easy-to-understand scale comparisons.
The Power of Innovation
The problem may seem insurmountable, but recognizing that consumers have incredible power through the choices they make, gives hope that, together, we can pave the way for a better tomorrow.
Government Action & Committing to change
Finally, we ask guests to pledge their support by committing to less single-use plastic, more reuse and recycling, contacting their local government, or supporting innovative businesses. With their name displayed alongside other pledgers', we make a collective statement that gets louder every day.

“We are at a tipping point, which means that we still have the opportunity to tip things back in the right direction if we act now.” – Dr. Sylvia Earle

Our oceans give life to every living thing on the planet, but the widespread crisis of plastic waste has put the health of our ocean ecosystems at great risk. The solutions to the problem are riddled with complexities, and it will take businesses, governments, and people to solve these challenges together. But, where there is knowledge there is hope that people will be more empathetic and motivated to take action.

Learn more and visit The Blue Paradox at the Museum of Science & Industry, in downtown Chicago.
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